Some people complain of their speaking voices TIRING out very quickly. On the other hand, there are other people that can speak all day long and never seem to wear out. Want to be one of the healthy ones? Then, use VARIETY! One big reason for vocal fatigue is doing everything the SAME. Perhaps the pitch is monotone. Or, maybe the voice is predominantly in one register like Vocal Fry or Chest Voice. It might be that the volume is always at one level. Or, perhaps the resonance is consistently very dark or bright. By, varying the pitch, registration, volume, and resonance, you will keep your voice spry and HAPPY. Plus, your voice will be more interesting, engaging, and attractive. Variety is indeed the spice of long vocal LIFE!
Sustaining beautiful and powerful notes in the MIX can be quite a challenge for many singers. This is mainly because this coordination requires a very delicate combination of Compression and Airflow. It's helpful to ease your way into this skill through effective vocal exercises. Begin by using sounds that promote light Compression such as "GUUG" on a 5-3-1 interval. Once you're comfortable with this exercise, try repeating the top note multiple times, such as 5-5-5-5-5-3-1 to develop sustains. Ensure that you're using proper Breath Support techniques that promote a gentle flow of air and minimal physical tension. Practicing with the right exercises creates the circumstances for being able to hold and sustain glorious high notes in your Mix!
Keeping a healthy and POSITIVE perspective before performing or auditioning is critical to success. While we should always strive to do our very best, it can be tempting to exaggerate the STAKES in our minds. One helpful strategy for combating performance anxiety is to recall some of your favorite memories - a late night laughing with friends, a favorite vacation, or maybe your very first concert. Be as specific as possible and take yourself to this Joyous place before taking the stage for your performance. Summoning imagery that fills your body and Spirit with positivity and peace can help alleviate pressure and nerves. Always remember that there's MORE to your blessed Vocal Journey than any ONE single performance!
In today's entertainment industry, VIDEO auditions are often taking the place of LIVE auditions. Thankfully, video recording on your smartphone is considered to be an acceptable practice. This said, it's still nice to make your audition videos look as professional as possible, even with a small budget. You might want to invest in a tripod for your camera or phone, so that the picture is steady and at the right height. Either purchase a basic lighting kit or find some good lamps that show you at your best. Record your audition videos in a space that is free from too many visual distractions. The space should also be free from any background noises. Keep your audition videos as simple and as professional as possible. This way the casting team will focus all of their attention on YOU!
Your EARS don't just sit atop your head! They are incredibly sophisticated! Your ears perceive an astounding amount of vocal variation. Just think of the many different VOWELS you can distinguish. There are over a dozen vowel sounds in the English language alone, and we speak our native languages without even thinking! Use this innate auditory knowledge to help your singing. Having trouble with a hard note or word in a song? Maybe you're DISTORTING the vowel. Try modifying your tongue, jaw, and mouth to make it resonate a little more purely. Or, find a vowel that your voice likes best. Sing on that preferred vowel first and then let it transition to any vowels that give you trouble. Your ears won't just sit there - they will guide the way to greater clarity and vocal freedom!
Want to really do your Vocal HOMEWORK? Then keep an Observation Journal! All aspiring artists must be very focussed to have a career in the Music Industry. This means disciplined practicing, studying with skilled instructors, and performing regularly. But, an often overlooked aspect is becoming a studious OBSERVER of music and the performing arts. Attend live performances and take notes on what other singers did that worked or didn't work. Listen to great recordings or watch live videos and notate the specific technical, stylistic, and dramatic choices that top artists have made. Keep an Observation Journal of your studies. It's one thing to be a FAN. It's another thing to be a PRO. By consciously studying the Arts in this way, your own artistry will grow by leaps and bounds!
Do you ever feel uninspired, not in the mood for practicing, and discouraged about your vocal abilities? Not to worry! Every singer goes through these emotions at one time or another. It is very normal to feel this way when you are passionate and eager to develop your instrument. If you feel this way, try practicing the MENTAL elements of singing instead of the technical elements. Take 5-10 minutes to execute this very different kind of vocal goal. Take calm, slow breaths. Let your mind become clear and settled. Then, MEDITATE on your voice. What does a great high note feel like? What is your favorite memory as a singer? Why do you love singing and practicing? What will it feel like to accomplish your dreams? What tensions in your jaw, larynx, tongue, or soul need to be released? Sometimes the best vocal practice is SILENT.
Want to give a truly AUTHENTIC performance? Then avoid falling into the trap of trying to act out EMOTIONS while singing. Don't attempt to be "happy" or "sad" (or any other emotion) because you feel that it's a happy or sad song. In real life, our emotions are revealed to us and to others as a result of our CIRCUMSTANCES. Instead of focusing on which emotion to act out, try to identify a few elements of circumstances in your song lyrics. These elements include: the immediate problem that needs fixing (aka the "crisis"), what you want (your "objective"), who you want it from (your "other"), and what you will do to reach your objective (your "action"). If you focus on these elements, the emotions will often reveal themselves, allowing you to deliver a believable and truly authentic performance!
You've probably noticed that the ACOUSTICS of a room can change the way your voice sounds. Don't we all sound lovely in the shower? Reverberations of sound against different materials and across varying spaces affect the way our voices resonate. If we practice in a small carpeted room every day and then go audition on a large wooden stage, we might end up confused and thrown off. We often sing differently when we perceive that our voice sounds differently. The best way to combat this problem is to practice in a wide variety of settings. Monitor the vocal adjustments you make in each environment. Then, when you do find yourself in a space with poor acoustics, you'll trust your training and you won't overcompensate! Don't just sing in one place. Sing EVERYWHERE!
Inspiration can come from many different places. So often as singers, we look to other singers for such inspiration. And rightly so! However, there are many other avenues we can explore to further our vocal, musical, and artistic growth. To start, we can listen to INSTRUMENTAL music. By listening to the greatest musicians we learn phrasing, dynamics, and other stylistic and expressive tools. Another avenue to explore is VISUAL art. By viewing drawings, paintings, and sculptures from the greatest artists, we learn continuity, focus, and attention to detail. Or, why not read or see a DRAMATIC work? There's a lot to learn about storytelling, truthful communication, and emotion. Whether it be instrumental, visual, acting, writing, dance or any other artform - improve your vocal artistry by learning about great art of ALL kinds!
"Get TALLER as you exhale!" This is a classic Vocal Tip given to singers to improve posture, breathing, and technique. But what does it mean? Well, when we exhale to sing, there is a tendency to let the air escape too fast and too aggressively. We tend to squeeze the upper abdominals and thrust the chest downwards. These habits lead to pitch problems, register imbalances, lack of stamina, and even vocal strain. Luckily, it can all be fixed by getting TALLER! As you sing a phrase (particularly a long phrase), imagine your sternum, the back of your neck, and the crown of your head all growing taller and taller. You'll notice an immediate difference to your vocal freedom, control, and stamina. In short, good singing can be as easy as getting TALL!
What is RESONANCE? Resonance is "sound waves vibrating within a space". Those spaces are the pharynx, larynx, nasal cavity, and mouth. Yet, Resonance can often cause sensations and vibrations in other parts of the body too. Simple spoken exercises can help you locate these vibrations. Find Chest Voice by calling out a strong "YO!". You'll likely feel a slight vibration in the chest. Nasal Resonance can be felt by humming on "MM". You should feel vibrations behind your nose. To experience Head Voice, make a high-pitched owl sound on "HOO". You should feel slight vibrations in various places in your head. Your Resonance is beautiful. Hopefully, you FEEL that this is true!
Why do Voice Teachers say that it's bad to breathe with a HIGH Breath? (A breath that lifts the shoulders and collarbone). First of all, this kind of breathing usually causes us to have too MUCH air. With all that air in the tank, we are very likely to PUSH. Second, many neck and larynx muscles connect to the collarbone. With the collarbone lifted, there is a high likelihood that those muscles will become engaged. Third, a High Breath is difficult to control. Good singing requires a small, steady stream of air. It is challenging to regulate the exhalation with the upper body lifted. What goes up wants to come down! So, let your deep abdominals, your lower ribcage, and your lower back take your inhalations. Breathe LOW and you will hit the HEIGHTS!
Singing Country music is much more than just TWANGING things up with a southern accent! Country singers are some of the most versatile singers in today's music industry. Some stylistic elements that can help you master your Country sound are the use of vocal fry, registrational agility (switching quickly between head/mix/chest), compression control (breathy/clean/raspy), scoops, riffs, falloffs, high mixed belting, straight tone, and vibrato. Country music is also very lyric-driven and often emotional and theatrical. So, be sure to really connect on a deep level to your songs. Then, you'll be ready for "three chords and the truth"... and some mighty fine singin'...
The Larynx is an extraordinary structure capable of making nearly an infinite amount of sounds! Yet sometimes we find it necessary to use other parts of our body to make sound instead of letting the Larynx do its job. We force too much air out, we tense our neck muscles, we raise our shoulders, we jut our jaws, we raise our eyebrows…the list goes on! Allow your Larynx to do the work it was meant to do! Take note of your body as you sing. Are you recruiting extraneous muscles to do the job of the Larynx? During your next practice, try your exercises or songs using as little movement of extraneous muscles as you can. Once the Larynx proves it can do all the work it was designed to do, then stylistic elements can be added. But, as for your vocal technique, you'll have found the right one for the job!
When learning a song, it's tempting to listen to ONE artist's version and mimic them. Imitation can be an excellent way to explore new sounds. But, it can also be a TRAP. The artist you are mimicking may be using vocal coordinations that took them years to execute. It's easy to try to copy their aesthetics without considering the PROCESS that allowed them to create these sounds. Listening to multiple artists sing the same song is one way to minimize the chances of falling into this trap. This is also a great listening exercise for discerning diverse stylistic and technical choices. Expanding your listening horizons will lead to broader resources in your own singing. No one artist should be on your vocal pedestal. Put MANY up there and you may find yourself lifted up as well!
Have you ever considered that you may be Riffing TOO MUCH? Riffs should be thought of as a means of heightening the sentiment of a word or phrase. Instead, many singers become addicted to Riffs and start adding them willy nilly! Try reading the lyrics without any music or melody. What phrases stand out to you as crucial to the MEANING of the song? Which moments give you something to SAY? Which words elicit a visceral response from your artistic soul? THOSE are the prime places to experiment with Riffs and other stylistic embellishments. Too many Riffs can actually diffuse your artistic impact, even if your vocal acrobatics are impressive. Practice mindfully choosing the most meaningful places for your Riffs and your singing will be both impactful AND impressive!
Ever feel frustrated trying to decide which Vocal Register you're in? Is it "Head Voice" or "Falsetto"? "Chest Voice" or "Mix"? All of these terms are helpful, but also can be very confusing! Instead of getting stuck on figuring out how to correctly NAME the registers, be open to the idea of INFINITE registers! There are actually an unlimited number of tone qualities that can be achieved by combining different percentages of each register. Experiment with bringing a little more "Chest" into that "Head Voice", for example. By freeing yourself of the need for EXACT labels, you can explore nuances of Vocal Registration without overthinking it!
Having trouble RELAXING while singing? Use your IMAGINATION! Mental imagery is often very effective in ridding the body of unwanted tension. Imagine a large body of water - calm and smooth - as you sing your most difficult passages. Try not to ripple the surface. Or imagine a tree - its canopy growing upwards as its roots lengthen deeper into the ground - while you glide, firmly grounded, through your high notes. Use these images or invent your own! Focusing your energy on an evocative image can often unlock body tension better than anything else. Your voice... free from tension... Imagine THAT!
Many singers have trouble finding songs and learning songs. TECHNOLOGY to the rescue! Thanks to technology, there are some helpful resources for musicians these days. For obtaining sheet music, some great websites include sheetmusic.com, musicnotes.com, and Scribd. You can purchase sheet music separately or subscribe for a monthly fee. The first two sites have software that allows you to play the accompaniment or melody in multiple keys and tempos. This makes learning melodies and rhythms easier and is useful for rehearsal. Well-known websites like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube are also great for karaoke tracks and backing tracks. Creating playlists on these sites is a convenient way of organizing all the repertoire you're working on. Recruit technology for better learning, searching, and practicing! Welcome to the vocal FUTURE!
Vocal HEALTH is easy if you treat your body right! First, stay HYDRATED! This means more than just drinking plenty of water. It also means monitoring the climate in your home, practice space, recording studio, or performance venue. Do everything you can to make sure that these spaces aren't too dry. If possible, use a humidifier. Next, STRETCH! This includes both your physical body as well as your vocal folds. Some yoga or calisthenics coupled with vocal warmup exercises can get the body prepped for vocal athleticism. Finally, REST! If you can, schedule one day off per week to recharge your instrument. Especially if you perform often. Maintaining a healthy voice can really be as easy as staying true to these basics!
Open up your mouth wide and SING! ...Sounds like decent advice. But, it's not. Wide-mouthed singing looks big and dramatic and gives us the feeling that we're using our full efforts. However, it actually encourages poor vocal technique and creates unsustainable vocal situations. Hugely opening your mouth runs the risk of pushing too much air, volume, and strength to achieve pitch. Not only are these habits unreliable, but they can lead to vocal fatigue and damage. Imagine being on a tightrope. You wouldn't want to run or skip across the rope unless you felt comfortable balancing while you walked. In the same way, master your songs with your mouth in a natural and neutral position first. Later, when your technique is solid, you can explore the nuances - and the visual dramatics - of opening your mouth as wide as you wish!
Feeling BAD? Take a break from your hard work practicing vocal exercises and mastering difficult techniques to remember one of the greatest and simplest things about singing: it FEELS good! We are inspired to sing for many reasons, but one of the primary reasons is that we love how it makes us feel - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Next time you sing your latest song, enjoy how it changes your body, your mood, and even your outlook on life! If you've got a big performance coming up, focus on the power that you have to uplift others with your gift of song. Practice this and it won't be long before you are … feeling GOOD!
Before you walk into any high pressure situation, remind yourself: "I have the RIGHT to be here." A very common mistake that singers make is to APOLOGIZE for their work. Maybe they don't say the actual words "I'm sorry". But, their body language and mindset display an apologetic essence. "Sorry" if I'm not good enough. "Sorry" if I'm wasting your time. "Sorry" if I'm not what you're looking for. Throw that thinking away! Your voice, your talents, and your hard work earn you the RIGHT to shine! So, once you've earned it - OWN it! When you enter the audition room, the recording studio, or the stage, say to yourself: "This is MY time to GIVE my gifts to others." Then, watch how making this one little adjustment transforms the way your singing is perceived!
Become a Recording Artist... right NOW! Technology has come a long way in today's Music Industry. More than ever before - you are now able to write, record, and distribute your own music. Yes, YOU! It actually doesn't take thousands of dollars of recording equipment either! With your personal computer and a decent microphone you can record a fairly professional sounding demo. If you do a little research, you can find several affordable options to create your very own home recording studio and get started. This will not only open up opportunities for you in the short term, but will also prepare you for the future when you're recording in a professional studio. Why wait for the Music Industry to come knocking? Become a Recording Artist... right NOW!